Cooked lunch from Gloucester...

 As a child I was fortunate to have known both my Grandmothers well.  They were known to my sister and I by their geographic location, Grandma Cardiff (Rhiwbina to be precise but Cardiff has a better ring to it) and Grandma Gloucester.  Both Grandmothers garner memories of food in many ways.
Childhood trips to Grandma Gloucester started early in the morning, in the 80’s there was no M25, so a cross country dash from Dorking, then up the M4 from Reading, to Swindon, then eventually down Birdlip Hill into Gloucester.  Our reward for our long journey was often a “cooked lunch.”  Grandma Gloucester was an advocate of the pressure cooker and invariably the “cooked lunch” would consist of boiled ham, peas and boiled potatoes all cooked extensively in the pressure cooker.  Served with a jug of water at the table I can vividly remember my Grandad eating his with a little Coleman’s mustard powder, he would carefully mix with any cooking liquor on the plate using a bone handled dinner knife.  Ham, peas and mustard remain for me a classic combination. 

Our Gloucester connection, combined with the fantastic temperament of the Gloucester Old Spots’ breed inspired us to start keeping them 7 years ago, we started with 4 in a pen we still use today called tree 1, and today our herd numbers almost 200, all pedigree Gloucester Old Spots. 

This week is national picnic week (it’s true I’ve not made it up I promise).  Thinking of Grandma Gloucester and her cooked lunches I set to making a little sandwich for my picnic.  Our hams are dry cured, I say that to customers a lot but what does it really mean?  Pick up a pack of regular supermarket ham and check the ingredients, right after pork it probably says water.  The pork legs are injected with a salty brine, which cures the ham, the water adds weight to the ham, and cures and colours the pork leg quickly, there may also be other enhancers and antioxidants added to stabilise the ham and stop it from going off quickly.

 

Our hams are cured with a dry salt based cure, we rub the cure into the boned leg joint and vacuum pack it.  It is cured for 12 days.  After that we remove it from the bag, rinse off the cure then dry the cured gammons for several days.  To turn gammon to ham they are married with our own cider, honey and aromats including star anise and cloves, before we steam them until they reach a core temperature of 75c, then we quickly remove the skins, score the fat and glaze with more cider and honey.  From pork leg to ham takes several weeks, but we think it’s worth the wait.

Back to Grandma and our sandwich, I paired our sliced ham with pea tendrils, these are a fantastic microgreen that pack a huge flavoursome pea-tastic punch.  I used the unbeatable Chalk Hills Bakery white sliced loaf, there are further Gloucestershire connections here as Chris & Rosie Robinson from the bakery use flour from The Shipton Mill in Tetbury.  To finish off I put on a little smattering of English mustard, administered with Grandad’s old bone handled knife.

 The perfect picnic sandwich evoking fond memories of cooked childhood lunches round Grandma Gloucester’s table.
 

 


 

 

 

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